The Moree Boomerangs will not be able to field a junior rugby league competition this season as hoped.
A community meeting was hosted on Tuesday evening to discuss the club’s future direction.
On Sunday evening Group 19 JRL management denied a number of clearances for juniors to transfer from the Boars to the Boomerangs. This effectively means there are not enough players registered to play with the Boomerangs club in 2015.
It’s a decision that has left the community confused and clutching at straws with only three weeks left until the season starts.
In November last year a resolution was passed by Group 19 that the “Boomerangs JRL be allowed into the Group 19 JRL competition on the required guidelines, that they have met the minimum conditions in place and that they work with Peter Hobday to liaise with Moree JRL”.
On February 4 another motion was passed by Group 19 stating: “Where you were registered in 2014 is where you play in 2015 and from there you will stay. Players who want to change clubs or if there is an overflow, this will be assessed on a case by case basis. There will be a cap of 25. Any child who has a parent who has played at a different club will also be assessed on a case by case basis.”
According to Boomerangs president, Mitchell Johnson, 28 registrations were approved and 35 denied, with five pending.
Breaking down the numbers he said 10 were registered for the under eights, 16 in the under 10s and 14s, and 14 in the under 16s - enough to field teams for each.
He said there were only seven registered in the under 12s, and that while numbers were low, children had still been registering.
Only five were registered for the girls league tag with some still expressing interest.
“Of the 28 registered these were children who had not played before, or didn’t play for another Group 19 team in 2014,” Johnson explained.
He said the club was approached by last year’s board to field teams after parents had complained they were travelling large distances for their children only to get minimal time on the field.
“We didn’t want to get the community’s hopes up but as of November 8 we thought we were in,” Johnson said.
“We went and bought all the gear over Christmas with an outlay of probably $14,000. That’s a lot of money for any club and we will be pursuing this,” he said.
Johnson said this was the first he, or anyone he had spoken to, had heard of a rule stating children must play in the same club for consecutive years.
“That’s the first time this rule has ever been brought up as far as I am aware,” he said.
The concern from parents was that if children were to sign with the Boars this year, would they be released to play for the Boomerangs next year, or would the same rule apply.
Johnson said he had gone to Country Rugby League to deal with the issue at a higher level but was told they did not want to intervene in group matters.
He said the problem they faced now, was being so close to the season’s start.
“There are avenues we can investigate but we are running out of time,” he said.
“There are about 30 kids from Tingha who can’t play as well because of the same rule. They want to transfer from Inverell but they can’t.
“Parents shouldn’t be dictated to, as to who their kids can play for. It seems if your kids want to play football this year they have no choice but to got to Moree.”
Johnson told the Champion it seemed the change of board had caused the debacle.
“There’s a different president and secretary to when we were approached last year, and it seems the support is not there anymore,” he said.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me. A few kids had to play for Warialda last year because Moree closed their books because there were too many children.”
Moree junior rugby league president, Mark Ricketts, said the club normally had around 170 registrations each year with teams capped at 25 players.
“Half the season last year we barely had enough to field teams in the 14s and 16s. We had to ask the 12s to play up just to get on the field. While the registration numbers were there, further into the season the kids just didn’t show up,” he said.
Group 19 president Barry Tozer told the Champion on Tuesday that the board wouldn’t allow the demise of one club to benefit another.
“They were to find 70 new players, which they hadn’t found,” Mr Tozer said of the Boomerangs.
“If we had let those 40 kids go, those left wouldn’t have anyone to play with. It would have left about five or six in each group, and you need 20.
“You can’t destruct one club to start another,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for the demise of that club, it wouldn’t have been denied.”
The community forum ended with a resolution to advise the Group 19 executive committee:
• The parents of children who wish to play for the Boomerangs want those who had a clearance denied to have their clearances approved.
• The Boomerangs would like to be informed of the number of registered players for Moree JRL.
• The parents of children who wish to play for the Boomerangs will not be forced to sign their kids to any other Group 19 club.
• Parents wish to advise they are willing to not have their children play in 2015 if it means they can play in 2016 at the club of their choice.
They agreed to also start a petition, and to meet again today at 6pm to discuss the matter further and provide updates.
Johnson said they did not want the children to miss out so while not advising parents to boycott Moree, would provide some sort of training and competition at a local level if needed.
“We’ve had a setback, which isn’t uncommon for our club, but we are going to move forward and come up with a solution,” he said.